Major terrorist arsenal recovered from Lagan after Belfast security alert

A major haul of improvised terrorist weaponry, including 28 pipe bombs, has been recovered by police following a security alert near Belfast’s Queen Elizabeth Bridge.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 2:25 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 6:31 pm
Pipe bombs found in River Lagan near Queen's Bridge

The discovery of the arsenal in a hold-all bag around 4pm on Thursday led to road closures and major rushhour disruption around the city.

Component parts for coffee-jar bombs and an improvised grenade launcher were also found.

A senior detective described the devices as “potentially lethal”.

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Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray said: “While the objects are undergoing further examination, what I can say today is we believe a significant munitions find has been uncovered.

“This includes what is believed to be 28 pipe bombs, one Under Vehicle Improvised Explosive Device, component parts for use in coffee-jar bombs, two improvised grenades, component parts for an improvised grenade launcher and an improvised smoke grenade.

“These potentially lethal weapons were designed to kill, or seriously injure, their targets, which include police officers and members of the public.

“History tells us that they would be used recklessly and indiscriminately, with little regard as to who would be the final victim.”

DCS Murray said the PSNI investigation is at an early stage, and that officers were working to establish how and when the munitions were dumped in the river.

“Thankfully, they did not reach their destinations or targets, and have been taken out of circulation,” he said.

Mr Murray said it has not yet been established how old the improvised devices are, but said the bag appears to have been “dumped by someone who panicked,“ – possibly as the result of police activity.

The items will now undergo extensive forensic examination.

“Clearly, those responsible for dumping these extremely dangerous munitions, and in the manner in which they did, demonstrated a blatant disregard for the safety of the community,” he added.

“I want to thank those who made the discovery yesterday, and for reporting it to us.

“I want to take this opportunity to appeal to anyone who has information which could help our investigation to pick up the phone and tell us.

“I believe there are people who will hold vital pieces of information, and I would urge them or anyone with information to call us on 101, or call Crimestoppers, which is anonymous, on 0800 555 111.”